Essay about Gender Roles in Two Literary Works

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The short stories The Revolt of Mother by Mary E. Wilkins Freeman and The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman both have strong central themes dealing with gender roles and the domestic life that confined nineteenth century women. While the women in both of these stories change the protagonist in the Freeman story takes positive control of her situation and facilitates dynamic change in her life, while woman in the Gilman story slips into insanity. Both stories use figurative language in the form of symbolism, and irony, to illustrate the themes and to set the tone for the story. Both rely on diction to add depth to the characters.
Both stories share common central theme of negative female gender identification and the lesser role of women in the nineteenth century as compared to men of the same era. In the short story The Revolt of Mother the central character Sara is a wife of forty years whose husband Adoniram is more concerned about barns and outbuildings for his farm than of bringing his family home and living conditions up to standard. In the work The Yellow Wallpaper the central character is a wife in a middle-class marriage who is experiencing what appears to be post partum depression. Her psychological treatment is a type of quasi sensory deprivation which involves her being sequestered in a room where she becomes preoccupied with the patterns on the wallpaper. In both stories the women are expected to live in a childlike state of unawareness stifling their development and aspirations. In The Yellow Wallpaper the husband refers to his adult wife as a child when he states “What is it, little girl?”(Gilman). The farm wife in The Revolt of Mother is told by her husband to “tend to your own affairs” (Freeman) when...

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...d depth and credibility to the characters. In Freeman work the reader meets a woman is able to overcome the male dominated world around her giving hope to the reader. The Gilman work on the other hand relates a more tragic outcome where the woman moves into a state of madness.

Source Cited
Freeman, Mary E. Wilkins, The Revolt of Mother , The Norton Anthology of Literature by
Women. et al. 3rd ed, Eds. Gilbert, Sandra and Gubar, Susan, Vol. I. New York: Norton,
2007. Print Pages 1346 - 1356
Gilman, Charlotte P. The Yellow Wall Paper, The Norton Anthology of Literature by Women. et
al. 3rd ed, Eds. Gilbert, Sandra and Gubar, Susan, Vol. I. New York: Norton, 2007. Print
Pages 1392 – 1403
New Revised Standard Bible, Multiple Authors, New Oxford Annotated Bible-NRSV:
New Revised Standard Version, et al. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010, Print

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